Headlines in Texas read as: Police are looking for a woman who says she's COVID-19 positive and is "spreading it willfully."
In Belgium, they have a similar problem: Footage of man smearing saliva on Brussels metro goes viral.
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2020 started out pretty dramatically - with a pandemic. Businesses are closing down, those who continue their work do it remotely from home, almost all countries have closed their borders, no one goes in or out. This is a good indicator of how dangerous the spreading could be to at-risk folk.
We can have live updates about new cases or critical changes from live streamed websites. The basics of how to avoid the spreading or what rules to keep up with are also common knowledge at this point.
What seems like a complete mystery at the moment is the fact that some people, not through negligence, but purely on purpose, are trying to infect others. Videos of people spitting in elevators or infecting metro stations are going viral. At first, some people thought it was some sort of evil viral challenge, similar to the Tide pod disaster, but the online footprints reveal that no such challenge was ever issued. People all over the world are trying to infect others with the disease.
We saw the same behaviour with AIDS back in the day. In the US, this harmful trend was given a proper name : HIV Terrorism. In 2015, the famous actor Charlie Sheen admitted to knowingly having unprotected sex with two women, while he was aware of his HIV diagnosis. In 2008 three Dutch men were convicted for knowingly injecting at least 12 men with HIV positive blood. We see this dangerous phenomenon worldwide, so it’s not a cultural issue.
In 2020, the new “trend” is to purposely transfer the Coronavirus to people. In some videos, you see people spreading their spit in elevators, public door handles, metro stations, etc. So what causes people to act in such a violent manner? What's the gain in spreading a dangerous disease?
Psychologically, people who have deadly diseases are more likely to feel anger and resentment, in this state of mind the person’s judgement is very clouded. In rare instances, some people think they are being punished, singled out, so they feel like it’s not fair. This is when they turn to spreading the disease, punishing others the same way they are punished.
We spoke to social psychiatrist Mariam Okruashvili on this issue to find some reasonable explanations for these actions, as well as a general professional outlook on the situation:
“This is a very painful subject in today’s world - the COVID-19 basically stopped the world in its tracks, burdened everyone with a rising death toll. No matter the age, race, ethnicity or religious background, each individual is being presented with some psychological pressure – everyone is afraid of the invisible threat.
The difficulty of the present situation is especially traumatic to those who experienced the disease themselves. They suffered, fought and battled against this disease for a very long and tiring while. Some are in the process of beating it, some have achieved a clean bill of health, but the road to this success is not paved with gold, considering the somatic symptoms of the COVID-19. Moreover, the people who got sick are labeled as “victims” or “infected”, even worse, “contagious” – someone who can harm others. With no intention, these people became someone everyone - even their friends or loved ones - tried to avoid.,. The virus is not something that affects you only physically, it has a tremendous effect on people emotionally and psychologically. Along with the virus, they are batting with difficult personal issues. Based on this, the World Health Organization (WHO) established some recommendation packages for COVID-19. One of the important points is to show some compassion towards the innocent people that have the virus – we shouldn’t call them the “diseased” or “Coronavirus families” etc. For some people, the virus didn’t go without some trauma.
Some people that have the virus intentionally spread the disease to express the trauma they are going through. Most of them do it so they will not be the only ones who are stigmatized by the disease, so others will “understand their pain and psychological suffering”. Naturally, we cannot consider these as actions of a mentally healthy individual.
The fact that we are forced to leave our active social lives and stay home for a long period of time also has an impact on our mental health. During this time, controlling your own stress is essential and just as important as social distancing and regular personal hygiene. It’s also important to use our free time productively, stay active during the day and have some sort of balance and stability in our activities.
It’s often that people, especially family members, friends or neighbors are showing avoidance (more than necessary), which makes people feel stigmatized and fearful. Most importantly – it’s important to not search for stress relief in negative ways: tobacco, drugs or alcohol.”
It’s important to stay healthy both in body and in spirit. We owe it to ourselves, to our loved ones, to keep the spirits high, if not, maybe the next pandemic after COVID-19, could be a psychological one, caused by the prolonged quarantine?